Archive for the ‘bible’ Category

In a few days we will be leaving on a plane to Atlanta for a nine day retreat and then on to Pittsburgh,PA.  Yes it is official. .This means I will be out of the blogosphere for a while. That’s until we get settled. Once we touch down and get things in order then I will be back with new posts, contests, and new plans (can u guess them?) since I will be seeking to create a larger platform for the ideas in this blog.

In the meantime, here is a preview of upcoming blogposts. Pick your favorite and I will dedicate it to you. Just comment below and if you have a blog or twitter give me your url or twitter handle and you will get free publicity from yours truly. So here they are:

Racism: Pointing Out the Problem or Being a Solution

Life in the Pitt: Week One

The Book of Ramon Explained

Manifesto of a Race-Transcending Prophet

Black or African American: What’s the Difference?

The Case for Reparations

The Confessions of an Ex-Pastor: Ten things I learned as a pastor

So there u go. Think of it like dedications on the radio except no mushy love song. Just tell me which one is your favorite and if you have a website, blog, or twitter handle I will mention it in my post. If you don’t get into the top 7 don’t worry I will still mention you in later posts.

Blessings,

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One of the big differences that I have seen between the black church and the white church involves preaching. It boils down to this: the stated goal of preaching is different therefore the delivery and content are different. The black preacher preaches in order to lift up. He knows he is talking to people who have been down and who face huge obstacles. The white preacher preaches in order to inform and educate. He knows he is talking to people who want to increase their knowledge.

This influences the delivery and the content of the preaching. The delivery of the black preacher is circular and high context. Most people think that black preaching is too emotional and not logical. This is due to not understanding the context of black culture that is sourced in Africa. It is not enough to have a logical argument. There is logic in black preaching but The black preacher knows that it takes more than logic to drive the argument home. This is done through stating the point. Talking about something related to the point and then stating the point again. Repeat and end with a climactic conclusion and you have a typical black sermon. It is very non linear. This is due to black culture being a high context culture. In a high context culture words are not the primary vehicles of communication. Facial expressions, music, hand gestures etc. are also taken into consideration when weighing whether a message will be received. So the black preacher states the point over and over again and this immerses her in the message and what God is saying and the congregation sees that this message must be important and begins to feedback with Amen! Preach preacher! It is the truth and it is conveyed in a non linear fashion.

On the other hand in the white church logic reigns supreme and linear forms of thought and speech hold sway. This is due to the legacy of the Enlightenment and even Greek culture. There must be a beginning and an end point and it must be clear how we got from the beginning to the end. This is due to a low context culture. In a low context culture the message is primarily in the words and the words only. It is enough to state what you want to say. Everything else that comes along with your message is frivolous and unnecessary. Emotion is shunned because it may interfere with the delivery of the truth. In the white church you will not hear feedback from the audience or Amens! from the choir. The true test of whether the message is heard is whether people actually get up and do it.

Most people usually critique black preaching or white preaching based on what it lacks. Growing up as a black pentecostal and then being part of a multiethnic church and a predominantly white movement I have had the privilege of seeing both styles in action. This has led to some soul searching in my own ministry on how to deliver God’s message. Doing both in different contexts I can honestly say that there is no better style but I wrestle with how both of these styles can be combined in order to be a greater benefit to the body of Christ.

  • What do you think? Do you prefer one over the other?
  • Could it ever happen? Has anyone seen it happen?
  • Can you give any examples of preaching that is a mixture of both styles?

One of my favorite lines in the Star Wars series is “I have a bad feeling about this”. Variations of this phrase can be found in each of the six Star Wars movies and it always cracks me up when I hear it. Ok now that I let my inner Star Wars geek out on to more important matters like…discerning God’s will.

As I reported earlier our family has been in the process of figuring out next steps and we have been guided from Philadelphia towards Pittsburgh. It is a long story but the change in plans was due to some godly counsel, wisdom from the word, circumstances, and the witness of the Spirit. My question now as I process what God is doing is the fact that I had a bad feeling about Philadelphia and a good feeling about Pittsburgh. Now I am from the school of thought that says do not trust your feelings but I also know that my feelings have been used by God to solidify decisions. What do I mean by this? This has happened twice in major moments of decision: leaving the church I grew up in
choosing to date my wife Yvette

Example #1: The time I left the church I grew up in to be a church planting intern was a tough time. I had not known any other brand of Christianity and was solidly rooted in that faith community. On top of that all of my maternal family was connected to the church and at the time my grandfather was the pastor. I processed the decision and logically it all added up but I still was not released to go forward with it until one day I was in a major prayer/fasting service and while praying I “felt” nothing. Just so you know this particular season of prayer/fasting was something that I had consistently prayed about for 30 days straight. I took this lack of feeling as a sign that God was leading me to be a church planting intern at VX church. That step led me to finding a wife, developing my gifts, and seeing God do some amazing things through a small multiethnic church fellowship.

Example #2: When I first started developing feelings for Yvette we had become really good friends over the years and more intensely for two months before I realized that I was definitely falling for her. At that point in my life I did not take “feelings” as the only indicator that I should pursue marriage with her because I knew that it took more than feelings to make a good marriage. So we waited and talked and discussed things. I gathered information on her and even interviewed her. In retrospect I was brutal and treated it more like a job interview than a relationship. Then at 3am in the morning after many hours of prayer I could not feel anything. I took this as God releasing me to date her. Here we are almost 7 years later and I am glad that I took that step.

In retrospect both of those examples were decisions that led to great blessing in my life and they were both associated with feelings or a lack thereof. Fast forward to 2011. I did not have a good feeling about moving until Yvette discussed it with me a couple of weeks ago and we figured out logically that Pittsburgh was a better place to relocate considering our immediate goals (rest, be near her family, change of scenery, better cost of living). On the other hand I also got an immediate surge of good feelings and emotions about it and I felt free to pursue it wholeheartedly. Ultimately as in the previous decisions it is loaded with uncertainty and mystery which is characteristic of every step of faith but I can’t help but think that emotions and feelings are not always bad in making decisions. I think the Star Wars characters were right in at least they were aware of their emotions and feelings during their crazy adventures and believe me..I am on one crazy adventure.

What do you think?

Are there any biblical examples of people moving on emotion?

Have you ever been led by your emotions and believed it was God?

Do you think that God chooses to speak to emotional people through their emotions?

PhillyskylineRight now we are preparing to go to Philadelphia and just like the t-shirt I got
from some friends at a Vineyard conference a few years ago people are asking “Why
Philly?” When presented with the question I just tell people it is a place that
we really fell in love with and it has been on my mind since we last visited.
Is this enough to suggest moving there? I personally think that it does. Now there
are other reasons:

  • A great college town. Yvette is a college instructor. I am
    aspiring.
  • Cheesesteaks. I haven’t been eating red meat since January but
    this would definitely sway me
  • A larger African American population. The Los
    Angeles area is only 8% African American while Philadelphia is 43.4%. I need this kind of
    emotional and cultural retreat as I have been working deep in cross cultural
    ministry for a long time
  • A change of scenery. I have lived in Southern
    California all my life. I think a change of scenery would be good
    for my soul. Seeing the seasons change sounds exciting.
  • A smaller less suburban environment. LA is a city of suburbs
    and I am tired of the sprawl. It is definitely not my speed.

Now these are natural reasons. But are there any supernatural ones? A better question is Do we need to have supernatural ones? Last night we talked to Mike Flynn. He is an associate pastor at a Vineyard out here and a great teacher and speaker regarding Holy Spirit ministry. He talked to me and Yvette about guidance. He says there are four things that are needed when a follower of Christ makes decisions:

  • Scripture. Right now we have no definite scripture that says
    go to Philadelphia.While we have nothing that says don’t go we do not have anything that explicitly says go. Anything that we have would be indirect like “Have faith in God” “Go to a land I will show you”. Nothing that really stands out in framing this decision from a Biblical perspective.
  • Peace. To have an inner peace and calm about the decision
    and not a feeling of apprehension. Mike said that this is found in our heart or
    right under our breastbone. While I don’t subscribe to the breastbone theory I
    do think that our decisions as Christians can be guided by a subjective peace.
  •  Wise, godly counsel. This is where I am at a loss. The only
    godly counsel that I personally have received regarding this decision has said “Gofor it” but more in the sense of “You know what you are doing and this is what you want so…Go for it.” I went to my former counselor and he said this is a good decision for us since it involves risk and will grow our faith.
  • Circumstances. This is where I am really at a loss. We keep
    looking for jobs and cannot find anything except there are an abundance of
    entry level jobs or service jobs that would not get us to a better place
    financially. There are not even a lot of ministry jobs which is the one field
    that I have experience and education in.

Now those are the four areas that need to be covered. I
really would like to make a good decision right now and not just plow through
this time because I need somewhere to go to escape. I also do not want to make
a decision based on the eeny meeny miny moe theory that JHenry talks about in
his blog. I want this decision to line up with what I believe and the overall
picture of my life and not just this one section of chaos.

That being said. If there is anyone who has anything to say
regarding our situation besides “Go for it!” Then please chime in. I am
searching for answers and am willing to eat crow if we are headed the wrong
way.